13 April 2007


This is a hard post to write. I want to let readers know that I will likely not be posting much for a while. On Wednesday afternoon my wonderful 14 year old son Jeffrey was hit in the back of the neck by a lacrosse ball during the warm-ups for a game. He died almost immediately. Although we will never know for sure, this suggests that there was some sort of structural anomoly in his brain.

In any case, Jeff was on life support for some time even though he was brain dead. This mostly was because we arranged for Jeff's internal organs to be taken for transplant and as of about 9:00 am this morning he is truly gone from us. That said, I hope that some of his smarts, verve, sense of humor and wackiness will go along to those who receive some small physical part of Jeff and that they will benefit from not just his life but receive too his love of it.

Please hug your loved ones and hold them tight for an extra moment or two today.

I love you Jeff and always will.
News reports here and here and, especially, here for insight into the very, very low incidence of this sort of event.

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Blogger Jeffrey said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great kid, and the world will be poorer without him. Best wishes for you and your family.

13 April, 2007 13:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry for your loss, Jim. I extend my best wishes and sincere condolences for you and your family. My prayers and thoughts are with you all.

13 April, 2007 14:33  
Blogger PortsmouthKammerjunker said...

Can't think of any appropriate words, my deepest sympathies.

13 April, 2007 14:54  
Blogger ben said...


how tragic. please accept my deepest sympathy for you and your family. i am thinking about you.

i don't want to make this comment about me, but i have to say this.. my wife is currently waiting for a donor for a kidney transplant, and her future rests in the selflessness of families like yours. please, you must know how much the the gift of an organ from Jeff will mean to another family. it won't fix the pain that you are feeling, but his legacy will be one of hope , and life.

my utmost respect and condolences to you and your family. i'm truly sorry.


13 April, 2007 16:20  
Blogger Laura said...

My heart goes out to you. I look at his face and cry for you and your family. I admire your courage, generosity, and thoughtfulness as you face this incredible loss. May you find peace and may your memories of Jeff and the comfort of family and friends sustain you at this time of pain and grief. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

13 April, 2007 16:37  
Blogger Unknown said...

I admire your courage to write this post and share your feelings with all of us. May your son rest on peace. my deepest condelences to you and your family.

13 April, 2007 16:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, my heart goes out to you and your family. You're in my thoughts, and I love the idea of Jeff's verve being passed along.

I'm touched by your strength and grace.

13 April, 2007 17:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know something about this kind of tragedy having lost a brother who was about this age. These are the things that change everything. It will be harder than you or your family know. You'll be in my prayers and thoughts.

13 April, 2007 18:52  
Blogger tim atherton said...


I logged on for your usual comments and came face to face with your post

I have two young boys and I can't even begin to imagine. My heart goes out to you and your family

13 April, 2007 18:56  
Blogger Navid said...

Even as a short-time reader, your blog has captivated me, and I want to offer my condolences. My thoughts are with you as yours.

13 April, 2007 20:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your terrible loss. My deepest condolences.

14 April, 2007 01:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an awful tragedy, all my deepest thoughts and sympathies go out to you.

14 April, 2007 01:21  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jim, I was totally shocked when I read what happened to your family. I want to express my deepest feelings, thoughts and sypmathies for you and your family. I'm so sorry, my prayers are with you.

14 April, 2007 07:04  
Blogger Unknown said...

My deepest sympathy to you and your family. May you find comfort in knowing that your son was such a wonderful young man whose presence will continue to be strong and vital to those who remember him.

14 April, 2007 08:06  
Blogger badaud said...

This is so heartbreakingly sad. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts. Peace.

14 April, 2007 08:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am so sorry for your loss. I am a father myself, though I never planned to be, and I think only a parent can truly understand the full import of this devastating loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. If there is anything I can do to help from this end, though it may be a longshot, you need only ask. Jon Anderson

14 April, 2007 09:01  
Blogger Michael said...


Following your recent post about Pittsford and your boy's accomplishments on the field, I looked at this photo, before reading the words, and thought: what a good and proud father you are.

I am so terribly, terribly sorry. I'm sure I speak for all your readers in saying that your voice here has meant a lot to all of us, and that you are deeply in each of our thoughts.

Whatever time you take and/or in whatever way this terrible event effects your effort here, we remain with you and understand.

Michael Shaw

14 April, 2007 10:31  
Blogger Eliot said...

Sincere sympathy to you and your family. I hope that the other kid involved in the accident finds peace too.

14 April, 2007 10:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. My deepest sympathies.

14 April, 2007 10:56  
Blogger Elan Morgan said...

There is no consolation for this loss. I am sorry to hear it.

I want to thank you, though, because my aunt received a heart a couple of years ago and is with us today. Although your son's life is lost, several may live through him.

14 April, 2007 10:57  
Blogger Stan B. said...

Our many thoughts and prayers...
Surely he knew he was loved.

14 April, 2007 11:54  
Blogger Tom said...

I'm sorry for your great loss. Your blog is a very positive influence on many people. I hope when grieving is done you will come back to your good efforts.

Rev. Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

14 April, 2007 16:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson, there are no words to express the amount of sadness I have in my heart for what you are going through right now. The love you have for your boys is truly touching and I can only hope that every child has a father who is such an inspiration. My prayers will be with your family during this time. We miss you.

14 April, 2007 17:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

News of Jeff comes on the day after the birth of my daughter Leila. I will do as you asked -- hold her tight and give thanks for the lives of people like you and your family.

14 April, 2007 17:45  
Blogger Emily said...

my deepest sympathies are with you and your family.

14 April, 2007 18:32  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Jim:

I am so very sorry about Jeff's death. Although we have not met I am a regular and enthusiastic reader of your blog. One thing I appreciate so much is how your deep love for and pride in your sons informs your cultural critique, enhancing your engagement with the lives of others.

As many others have noted, language seems to fail us at times like these. There are so many of us who wish you well, whose thoughts enfold you as you traverse the painful path that lies ahead.

God bless you and the boys.

Anne Rice

14 April, 2007 18:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am desperately sorry for your loss. as an amateurish photographer and former lacrosse player/coach/ref, I do so feel for you and your family on all levels. my sincere sincere condolences,
p. favero

14 April, 2007 22:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your account, the qualities of your kid, as well as the love you have for him, shine through. May you and your family find solace in these kind memories. Our hearts are with you.

14 April, 2007 22:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to let you know that your son was an incredible person and I am deeply deeply hurt by his death. Jeff was in my art class and during this past year we had so many great times. Jeff was always so funny and made art, despite the boring teachers we have, one of my favorite classes of the day. I was in Florida when my friend called and told me the bad news, and I almost couldn't take the pain. His death shocked me and everyone else, and I would like to offer my condolences to you and your family. Jeff was an awesome person, truly an awesome person and it was such a pleasure to get to know him so well this year. I honestly can't imagine how I will ever be able to go into my art class again knowing that Jeff's not going to be there. I am so so so sorry for your loss, and you and your family are always and forever in my prayers.

Carley Clement

14 April, 2007 22:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are kinds of sadness that find no form in mere words. I watched my dad lose a son and 14 years later his pain is still palpable every time my brother's name comes up. And now as a dad of two young boys myself I find it hard to even contemplate how I would deal with this kind of shock.... My hope is that in the rawness of emotion you will find beauty and strength and love inside the pain.

Let the people around you hold you as long as you need to be held because these will be the hardest days...

14 April, 2007 23:00  
Blogger luis said...

My five year old is sitting right beside me as I write this. I cannot even start to imagine what you and your family are going through right now. I can only say that I am really sorry for what happened. May my deepest condolences croos the Ocean and reach you and your family.


15 April, 2007 07:41  
Blogger Larry Wirth said...

Mr. Johnson,
I am so sorry for your loss. From what I have read about your son, he was a wonderful gift to all who were blessed enough to know him. Thanks to you and your family for helping others with organ donation at this difficult time.

15 April, 2007 10:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe this. Accept my deepest condolences.

15 April, 2007 11:12  
Blogger Ali said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

15 April, 2007 12:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your son was a superstar who had a profound and positive impact on the lives of those around him. Adults familiar with Pittsford Lacrosse knew of him (along with his brother) as the most gifted kid Pittsford has ever had in a lacrosse uniform. The children knew him as a humble kid with a big smile who loved life and made the most of every opportunity he had. On the day he was taken from us, he voluntarily coached our kids in a youth lacrosse clinic. Why God took him so early we will never know. Your kid was truly gifted and blessed in many ways that others can only dream about. He made all of us better in knowing him, and he will live forever in those of us who truly admired him for everything he was. Thank you for bringing him into this world and for letting us get acquainted with him. God bless you, Jim. I wish I could have 14 years with a son like Jeffrey in my life.
Anonymous Pittsford Resident

15 April, 2007 16:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Professor Johnson,

I'm so sorry for your loss. As an avid reader of your wonderful blog, I greatly admire your courage in this difficult time. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

YJ Chiao

15 April, 2007 18:01  
Blogger pfong said...

Things like this are hard to express in words. My heartfelt sympathies to you and and your family.

15 April, 2007 20:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doctors took an orange-sized tumor from my daughter's skull last year, and this week she learned it's growing back, along with what may be a different growth on the opposite side of her brain. The first one came very close to killing her, but fortunately for us both, we are in Recovery and we used the tools we learned to stay sober to accept what came then, and what may come next. I cannot say I know how you feel; all I can say from one father to another is that I will give her that extra hug the next time I see her.

15 April, 2007 21:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's difficult to know what to write,
when blog communication falls short.

How do I tell someone
whom I've never met
that I wish I could just
give him a big hug
instead of typing
this crummy comment?

I guess the best I can do
is add my name to the growing list here
of those who've cried
in front of our computer screens
while reading this


15 April, 2007 23:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so hard to put in words how sad I am to hear about your son. Since the moment I heard about this incident, you and Jeffrey have been in my mind and heart. I am sure he knew what a wonderful father he had. I hope you and your family will find solice in knowing that a part of him will be giving life to another person in need.

15 April, 2007 23:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is always good to be reminded that Life is short. Art is long. Thank you for sharing your art and love for your beautiful son with us. His life was shorter than most but filled with the love of a lifetime.

15 April, 2007 23:17  
Blogger promenadeur said...

As a father, I feel with you and your familiy.

16 April, 2007 01:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm deeply sorry for your loss. In this case words are insufficient. Wishing you strength in the days ahead.

16 April, 2007 01:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remembered that you often brought the two boys to Harkness Hall on weekends and they would watch TV, play computer games under your watch ... they were lovely kids and I thought to myself that my professors really knew how to raise good kids... I cried as I started this post... I know that there is very little others can do at this moment to make you feel better... but I will still try: Jim, Jeff will live on, through people who love, and it is obvious to me that there are a lot of them...


16 April, 2007 01:36  
Blogger Natasha Mhatre said...

This was really awful, I wish you strength in this time.

16 April, 2007 03:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so sorry.

from a stranger

16 April, 2007 05:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

16 April, 2007 07:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also lost a son many years ago to an accident. Even then, a wave of sadness still hits me as I read this entry. Until then, we may never know why accidents happen and why our child was taken away before us. Just know I am reading this. My deepest sympathies.

16 April, 2007 07:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your recent post of 6 April about your boys' lacrosse success had moved, and surprised me. As the parent of another 14 year old, who's (small, but important) sporting accomplishments I've followed throughout his life, it was a pleasure to see another father recognising his sons in this forum, one where deeply personal experiences may not be expected to intrude. I very much admired then your celebration of your sons then—and now again, as you tell us of your dreadful loss. I wish you and your family well at this time, and as you rebuild your lives.

16 April, 2007 08:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,
I am sorry for your loss. There is neither a consolation nor a compensation for a situation like this. I do hope that your son would be happy where he went and his soul would rest in peace.

16 April, 2007 08:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry for Jeff's passing. I lost my nephew several years ago when he was just a small child, it was also sudden. I grieve with you and your family.

16 April, 2007 09:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words fail. Our hearts go out to you and your family.

16 April, 2007 12:15  
Blogger Jamie Robertson said...

There are no words.

16 April, 2007 12:31  
Blogger David C. Fox said...

i will hug my children. i'm praying for your family.

16 April, 2007 22:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Please accept my deepest condolences.


16 April, 2007 23:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My condolences

17 April, 2007 01:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your son. Thank you for telling us about Jeff and his gift to others' lives. We'll be here listening whenever you want to write.

You and your family are in my thoughts,


17 April, 2007 05:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, I am so sorry for your loss.

17 April, 2007 19:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, I am so sorry for this devastating loss. You have been in my thoughts recently, and I give my greatest sympathy to you and your family. -Andrew (your former student, class of 01)

18 April, 2007 11:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Professor Johnson-
I’m very sorry for your loss. In the classroom and on this blog you have, as a proud father, shared stories about your sons that show your unconditional love and support for them. From all I have heard, I believe Jeff was a truly incredible kid. Your love for your sons and your courage in this terrible time are inspirational to me. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

18 April, 2007 13:03  
Blogger Tanny said...

Blessings to you and to all your beloved.

19 April, 2007 13:51  
Blogger greg said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Words are inadequate to the moment, of course. But I hope there will some minimal comfort in the knowledge that so many people...like me...who are strangers to you still share a wee bit of your grief.

20 April, 2007 11:37  
Blogger Dave Armstrong said...

Dear Jim,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We can't begin to express how sorry we are for your loss.

- Dave and Amanda

21 April, 2007 03:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remember your classes from Ann Arbor - the best ones I ever took - and how you used to talk about your son playing lacrosse, and how you made all sorts of funny and loving remarks about it. It is a complete shock to read these terrible, terrible news. I am in tears thinking about your pain and loss and the fragility of life. I hope that you somehow manage to get through this dark hour. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

/Peter, Sweden

25 April, 2007 07:33  
Blogger Clint said...

Dear Jim,

I wish there were a way to lessen your suffering. You and your family are in our prayers.


25 April, 2007 19:52  
Blogger Anthony said...

You have my deepest sympathies. There is little use for words - just sadness.
You are in my families thoughts.

26 April, 2007 20:17  

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